§ Mr. Steen
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is the total cost to the National Health Service per region per year of the importation of non-injectable sterile water over the last five years;
(2) what is the total amount—in bottles—on non-injectable sterile water imported per year per region over the last five years.
§ Dr. Owen
To obtain information about imported sterile water by cost and by numbers of bottles per region per year for the last five years would entail a special inquiry of National Health Service authorities related only to purchases from the single firm that has imported its sterile water from the USA hitherto.
However, as I promised the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Cordle) in my reply to him on 1st May—[Vol. 891, c. 215–6]—an inquiry has been made into the supply of sterile water during the year ended March 1975. This showed that the total NHS requirement was nearly 4 million litres, of which only about 15 per cent. was purchased commercially from two firms; only one of these was importing its sterile water at that time. The cost of supply of imported sterile water to the health service was approximately £250,000 for the year in question, but I have no way of knowing the imported price. The firm has now developed its production capacity in this country and has recently been notified of608W
§ Mr. O'Malley
The information requested is available only on a half-yearly, rather than quarterly, basis and is set our below from May 1970 to the latest date for which figures are available:
the grant of a product licence. There will therefore be no need to import any further supplies of sterile water.
I am still studying the wider implications of this matter.